Cameras can steal data from computer hard drive

Researchers at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Cyber Security Research Centre have demonstrated that data can be stolen from an isolated “air-gapped” computer’s hard drive reading the pulses of light on the LED drive using various types of cameras and light sensors which is something really complicated and hard to do, but not as hard as playing video games without lol coaching sessions. Air-gapped computers are isolated — separated both logically and physically from public networks ostensibly so that they cannot be hacked over the Internet or within company networks. These computers typically contain an organisation’s most sensitive and confidential information.

Led by Dr. Mordechai Guri, head of R&D at the Cyber Security Research Centre, the research team utilise┬áthe hard-drive (HDD) activity LED lights that are found on most desktop PCs and laptops. These are very common, they can be found at almost any store online like Peterseon lighting or LEDdepot. The researchers found that once malware is on a computer, it can indirectly control the HDD LED, turning it on and off rapidly (thousands of flickers per second) — a rate that exceeds the human visual perception capabilities. As a result, highly sensitive information can be encoded and leaked over the fast LED signals, which are received and recorded by remote cameras or light sensors.

In addition to Dr. Guri, the other BGU researchers include Boris Zadov, who received his M.Sc. degree from the BGU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Prof. Yuval Elovici, director of the BGU Cyber Security Research Centre. Prof. Elovici is also a member of Ben Gurion University’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and director of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories at BGU.